And to All, a Good Night.

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I loved Christmas when I was little. There were sweet and savory aromas wafting from the kitchen for weeks leading up to the big day. There were holiday movies and specials on TV. There were brightly wrapped gifts under the fresh-cut pine tree tempting me with their sizes and shapes. (If it was square and light and came from Mommy and Daddy it must be underwear.) Best of all, there was a trip to see Santa.

Depending on where we were, sometimes I saw several Santas – the one at Macy’s at Herald Square, the one at the Albany Montgomery Wards upstate, the one at Marshall Fields while visiting Uncle Fritz in Chicago, and the one at Joseph Horne Co. while visiting my mom’s family in Pittsburgh. All of these Santas looked and spoke slightly different and early in my childhood I wondered how there could be so many of them. After all, one must be the real one, but which one. My father tried to explain it to me.

“There isn’t only one real Santa,” he said. “Santa is the spirit of giving and that is why he can visit every child in every land, no matter what color or religion they are.”

Oddly enough, even at age four, I understood that. Actually, I found it a relief that Santa was so egalitarian that he would visit me, a half Catholic/half Jewish/now Protestant child. No matter at which relative’s house I happened to be sleeping on Christmas Eve into morning, after my dad read The Littlest Angel, parts of A Christmas Carol, and the Christmas story from the Bible, I kicked off my reindeer slippers and crawled under the covers secure in the knowledge that Santa would find me, that he would find all of us no matter what color, creed, ethnicity, or religion because he wanted to, because we are all equal to Santa.

The older I get, the more I appreciate my dad’s explanation and the more convinced I am that he was right.

Merry Christmas to all.

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